In my name…

Recently, Charles P. Pierce wrote a piece on the Politics Blog at Esquire.com (an excellent spot to spend a few – or a lot of – hours at).  It is probably the best bit of writing I have read in a very long time.  It consisted of a simple question.

What is being done in my name?

With all the talk about the NSA and the metadata collection and all that faux outrage and posturing and tilting at windmills, he broke it down to a simple question.

What is being done in my name?

If you take the time to read the column, you will see that the rhetorical question has some real-life consequences for all of us.  http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/A_Simple_Question

Now that I’ve hoped you’ve read it, here’s my answer.

Since 1980, not much.

Yes, there’s your answer.  That ubiquitous year when we tossed aside reality and elected a B-movie actor President.  A man who made up stories and laid the groundwork of the America we have today, Split along regional, class, monetary, cultural, racial and even who you vote for in a given election.

It was the year that brought the term “Moral Majority” to the fore and the term “Religious Right” into our collective consciousness.  Reagan, according to his biographer, was “a man of benign remoteness and no psychological curiosity, either about himself or others. He considers his life to have been unremarkable. He gives nothing of himself to intimates (if one can use such a noun in such a phrase), believing that he has no self to give. In the White House he wrote hundreds of personal letters, and obediently kept an eight-year diary, but the handwritten sentences, while graceful and grammatical (never an erasure, never a flaw of spelling or punctuation!) are about as revelatory of the man behind them as the calligraphy of a copyist.”

In other words, he was just there.  For eight years we had a President devoid of anything but the ability to be jovial and read from a script.  A puppet, a Charlie McCarthy, but instead of Edgar Bergen making us laugh, he began the downfall of this country.  In a slow, methodical way.

Most didn’t notice it at first.  I certainly did.  My summer job was eliminated.  My subsidized transportation costs doubled.  I had to take out loans to pay for college.  When I left school for a few years, I was living in a subsidized apartment and got some of the free cheese the government was giving away.  Surprised i’m still alive today to tell about it.  When I spoke out about it at a rally, the FBI opened a file on me. I saw the file about 10 years later.  I just laughed.

But President Louis L’Amour was just a storyteller.  Like the Wizard of Oz, the real ministrations were going on behind the scenes.  Reagan began the slide by firing the Air Traffic Controllers, demonizing blacks, the poor, the elderly and the disabled.  Well, he didn’t, personally, but his administration did.  He cut the marginal tax rate for the wealthy in half.  He cut medicaid, education and other services.  He made up stories to scare people, like the one about the “Chicago woman” who scammed the system and the 14-year old boy who got hooked on drugs.  Neither ever existed, but Reagan was a master at selling a narrative.

Tell me what is being done in my name?

From the looks of it, not much.  Do we even get to ask that question anymore.  Since Reagan, we have seen a steady erosion of wages, a winding gap between rich and poor and fewer and fewer services to help those who fall through the cracks.  Our elected officials are elected and re-elected over and over again, with nominal resistance or challenge. Districts are gerrymandered and skewered to the point where the elections are rarely close or even contested anymore.

The result is seen in our daily lives.  Friendships end, people become more entrenched in their positions and even families are split along who voted for whom in the last election.  The working people settle for less than they did because there is no other choice.  If the minimum wage would have kept up with inflation, it would be $21 an hour.  But it’s not.  Based on a 40-hour work week, a person making that “earns” $15,000 a year.  Before taxes. You can’t even rent an apartment at that wage.

Tell me what is being done in my name?

Today, very little.  My Medicaid and Medicare “benefits” don’t provide me with much, outside of my Doctor visits.  Due to the screw ups in Washington over the past few years (and Lansing as well), I need to pay for such things as hearing aids and glasses.  Those aren’t cheap and things aren’t likely to be getting better anytime soon.

We live in an America that our grandparents and great-grandparents built.  An America that is coming apart and no-one can compromise or see the need to get off their entrenched position long enough to do anything about it.  Since 2001, we have become more and more fearful, more intransigent, indignant and unbending in our positions to even see the reality of our own downfall.

I had hopes after the Avignon Presidency (and two stolen elections) that things would be different, or at least not as bad as they got under the dry drunk.  But the abject hatred and obstruction and disrespect afforded President Obama has made matters even worse then under President Cheney.  And yes, this administration has made some mistakes, but I can’t recall as an adult, any President being so hated by people who a) were elected to serve in Congress; b) voted against him, and c) even those who voted for him for not undoing everything that 30-plus years has turned us into.

Tell me what is being done in my name?

The question should be, tell us what is being done.

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8 Responses to “In my name…”

  1. Stephen Beard Says:

    Nice piece, Kent. In praise of Pierce. In defiance of the idiots in Congress. I’ve personally felt the denigration of labor in my own lifetime, and I am watching it play out in my son’s employment, What to do, considering the betrayal of Obama? Any ideas about how to get a third party going?

  2. Sharon Dymond Says:

    Evidently when we wheeled that sparkly Trojan horse into our living rooms…cell phones, internet, social media…and Big Brother started listening, he learned plenty. What did he learn? From Charlie’s unprecedented Sunday post yesterday, Big Brother learned millions of desperate, unhappy, exhausted, stressed-out Americans a/k/a federal workers hate their fucking jobs. And what did Big Brother conclude? That desperate, unhappy people are a threat to national security. Eek! When you create a nation of precariats, this is what you get, idiots.

  3. rollingwheelie Says:

    I just now got around to reading that post, Sharon. This is what i said…Jesus H. Murphy the French Guy, we might as well dig up Old T, R & R and run him in ’16. Esquire should reinstate his picture and the caption “Why is this man laughing?” Because it’s STILL Nixon’s world and we’re just living in it.

  4. Sharon Dymond Says:

    Kent, as I read the McClatchy piece Charlie referenced, I thought: well now ain’t that just great. Obama’s committing some colossal, conspicuous high crimes and misdemeanors here. You don’t have to be a professor of constitutional law to know that. You only need a couple of semesters of high school civics. Maybe if Republicans succeed in impeaching Obama for this…and I’m not at all sure I’d oppose it…they would finally succeed in serving Democrats the cold dish of revenge they’ve been yearning for lo these many years. Would they feel all clean and new like they’d just taken a see-the-face-of-God shit? Would they get back to governmentin’? Who knows? Suspect not. There are those who suggested in comments Republicans wouldn’t do that because they do love them some surveillance so vewy, vewy, vewy much. Since when did hypocrisy ever stop Republicans, I ask.

    • rollingwheelie Says:

      Sharon, you’re forgetting a few important details. One being the Boehner’s not Newt and that all these so-called “scandals,” have nothing to them, unlike “Watergate” or “Iran-Contra.” And the Republicans would be signing their own death certificate if they tried. I don’t hear many outside of the bat shit crazies like Bachmann, Gohmert and the Fleas screaming about impeachment, so lets not give them any bright ideas, shall we. It is also important to remember that the Farm Bill, a bill so odious that 68 republicans voted against it, couldn’t pass the House. So Orange John can’t even get his own crazies to vote along with him, let alone sing along with Mitch, if you get my drift.

  5. Andrew Kirkaldy Says:

    Nice to know I’m making about minimum wage anyway.

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